This Friday, supporters cheered Barton County Sheriff Brian Bellendir and his attorney Jess Hoeme following a not guilty verdict on Bellendir’s charge for mistreatment of a confined person. After three days of evidence, the jury deliberated for a mere 15 minutes before returning their unanimous verdict.
The charges arose from an incident on August 10, 2017, when Sheriff Bellendir’s daughter called to report that Nathan Manley was on her porch stealing her barbeque grill. Manley was known to the Sheriff as a frequent inmate in the Barton County jail for the last 20 years. When the 911 dispatchers and the Great Bend Police officers could not respond due to other calls, Sheriff Bellendir and the two deputies went to the house where Manley had fled. Sheriff Bellendir received Nathan Manley and placed him in handcuffs. Alleging that, the Sheriff was rude and disrespectful and struck him while in handcuffs, the State of Kansas charged the Sheriff under a statute prohibiting “knowingly abusing, neglecting or ill-treating any person, who is detained or confined by any law enforcement officer.”
At a press conference following the verdict, attorney Jess Hoeme expressed relief for his client to be able to put this case in the past: “We are pleased with the verdict, and the jury did the right thing, and they did so in a quick and loud fashion: Not Guilty, as it should be.” He continued, “I feel in my heart that they did the right thing. We are very proud of the jury and the people of Barton County for supporting the sheriff.”